August 19, 2012

Tack Change!

I've been inwardly debating whether my Beval still fits Connor or not, but after seeing some telling sweat patterns lately and seeing the conformation shots I took yesterday, I realized that I needed to stop being in denial about it: the Beval no longer fits him.  Today, in an attempt to see if the saddle was part of his canter problem and in an attempt to put me in something that is actually meant for sitting, I pulled out the saddle I'm so ashamed of, nobody knows I own it: my A/P Collegiate I bought used in high school.

It's in embarrassing condition.  Structurally sound, but ugly, I've kept it around as my "I'm probably going to foxhunt someday" saddle, or my "I don't want to put my good saddle on a green horse" saddle.  I haven't ridden in it in probably four or five years, and wasn't sure what to expect fit-wise when I put it on him.

To my surprise, other than clearly needing a small back riser, it fit extremely well, much much better than the Beval.  I couldn't have asked for a much better fit, and I'm picky about fit.  The true test, though, came when I schooled in it in the arena.  Besides being a little weirded out by having something touch the back of my tailbone when I sat in the saddle, I loved it for flatwork. The mini-knee rolls and deep seat put me exactly where I needed to be in order to sit the canter and work on myself. 

See?  Back riser is necessary.

Happier sweat patterns, without big dry circles.
The best part, though?  At all three gaits, I felt him really trying to lift his back and move out for the first time in a while.  It didn't feel forced or contrived.  The best evidence of this is that he actually put his head down and lifted his back at the canter for the first time today, and he did it multiple times.  Part of it was that I felt secure enough in my position to ask properly, but part of it has to be that he's feeling better with those pressure points gone.

So what's the plan?  Since this is an A/P and I am primarily flatting right now anyway, it will do for now.  That means the Dressage saddle search is suspended indefinitely.  I am probably going to have to sell the Beval and use the proceeds to get a new jump saddle.  Hanging on to it in case he loses condition, or in case I someday own something that needs a MW tree again, is just not smart.
Look, foam!  Told you we were working hard!


  1. Jen, it looks like he will out grow this one too pretty quick. I competed Barry in a Thornhill Pro trainer, basically an AP, his whole career. And heck I jump Comrade in a dressage saddle. So if it works for the horse, who cares what type or condition the saddle is.

  2. That may be that he will outgrow this as well, and that's fine since it's just a stopgap, but you can only fit the horse you've got, not the one you think you will have in the future. Hence the reason I'm not getting anything nice til he's at least 8 - Cobs!

    I agree that if it works for the horse condition isn't an issue, but I have to disagree on type. My pancake-flat Beval is designed for jumping and jumping alone. It hurts to sit on, and it's difficult to do a good Dressage ride in, but it excels at what it was designed for. A/P is a good compromise, though.

  3. Ack. At least you have something that works for now.

    I have a wide ainsley jump saddle from my last horse that I can't bear to part with and a super narrow wofford xc saddle for Cuna's shark fin withers. Who wants to bet that my next horse will be a medium?


  4. Oh Jen, I do not think that will last till he is 8. By using the riser it will eventually put pressure on his withers and means it is already a bit small. Too bad you are not closer, you could have tried my Thornhill Germania.
    The changes young horses go through is why we ended up going with changeable gullets. I would love to get a Bates version but they are so expensive. Collegiate does a changeable gullet I believe too. Then you can have your leather and be able to adjust for his growth. Cobs are tough since they mature slowly, but too small will develop bad muscles. DaVinci is proof of that and it took years to fix. At least he is not as sensitive as Comrade. He has no tolerance for an ill fitting saddle.
    I understand about the jump saddle, was more refering to the A/P.

  5. Oh, I was just joking about how long it takes a Welsh Cob to fully mature. I just meant that I'm not spending $$$$ on a saddle until his muscle development has stabilized. I'm already on the hunt for a new saddle, I'm not planning on using this one for more than a month or two.

  6. Ok scared me. You have been making great progress to get slowed down by a saddle.